Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Professor's Corner on Koontz

This month's ABA Real Property "Professors' Corner" teleconference will focus on Koontz, the end-of-Term exactions that is one of the most significant Supreme Court property-rights cases in recent years.  (Jessie Owley has discussed it here, and Tim Mulvaney and others have weighed in around the net).  This Professor's Corner session should be a good one with several leading scholars participating.  Here's the announcement:

Professors’ Corner:  Wednesday, July 10, 2013:  Koontz v. St. John’s River Water Management District:  A Significant Victory for Property Rights?

Professors’ Corner is a monthly free teleconference sponsored by the ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section's Legal Education and Uniform Laws Group. Each month’s call features a panel of law professors who discuss recent cases or issues of interest to real estate practitioners and scholars.   Members of the AALS Property Section are invited to participate in the call (as well as to join and become involved in the ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

12:30 p.m. Eastern time (11:30 a.m. Central, 9:30 a.m. Pacific). Call is ONE HOUR in length.

Call-in number: 866-646-6488

Passcode: 5577419753

This program will feature a roundtable discussion breaking down the Supreme Court’s important June 25 decision in Koontz v. St. John’s River Water Management District. If “monetary exactions” have always seemed a little untamed to you, you’re not alone. The 5-4 decision in Koontz leaves a lot of room for analysis, and this month’s panel is prepared to guide you through it by parsing the decision and the dissent.  Our distinguished panel will include Professor Jonathan H. Adler, who is the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at Case Western Reserve University School of Law; John D. Echeverria, Professor of Law at Vermont Law School; and David L. Callies, who is the Benjamin A. Kudo Professor of Law at the University of Hawai’i. 

For those that haven’t already seen it, here’s a link to the opinion:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-1447_4e46.pdf

Please join us Wednesday for this great program!

Matt Festa

July 9, 2013 in Caselaw, Conferences, Conservation Easements, Constitutional Law, Environmental Law, Federal Government, Property Rights, Scholarship, Supreme Court, Sustainability, Takings, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Late to the Game: Koontz and whether you can have a takings claim without an actual takings

The past few weeks have been exciting ones for Supreme Court opinions. Busily finishing a book chapter, I did not have time to read Koontz carefully until Friday and of course by that time, I also had a stack of blog postings and news articles to peruse as well by then (Note to self: Post earlier next time so I don't have to read everyone else's posts first and try to avoid repeating them). As so much has already been said (and said better than I could), I am going to highlight the way the case could affect New York law (particularly conservation easements in NY). I get giddy anytime we here the Supreme Court mention conservation easements even when well they aren't really talking about conservation easements.

As we all know by now, there are two intriguing topics in Koontz.

(1) Timing. I like to think of this as when does a takings become a takings even if that is a bit inartfully said. On this point, I think both the majority and the dissent get it right. In thinking about the life of a permit and associated takings case, we generally see a landowner trying to get a permit to build on her property. In exchange for the permit, the permit-issuing agency requires something of the applicant. For example, let's say you want to build on your 10-acre property that is mostly wetlands. The local governement may allow you to build on 2 acres as long as you restrict building on the rest of the property with a conservation easement. Nollan tells us that the government's demand must have a significant nexus with the harm. For example, where the landowner converts wetlands, the exaction should be aboout protecting wetlands or the ecosystem services provided by wetlands. Dolan tells is that the government demand must be roughly proportional to the harm caused. If the property owner is converting 2-acres of wetland to dry land, you need to make sure the exaction compensates for those 2-acres -- requiring creation of a 100-acre wetland park would likely be considered disporportionate (unless you could show that those were some amazing super wetlands that were being destroyed). Okay, so far so good. This has been the established analysis for takings in the exaction context for some years now. This case now says, what if the governement tells the landowner that in return for developing 2-acres, she needs to protect 8 acres and the landowner thinks that is not proportional (i.e., violative of Dolan's rough proportionality rule).

Could our hypothetical landowner challenge this as a takings? Note, nothing has actually been taken at this point. She had not actually given over the 8 acres.

I actually  think that Justice Alito gets it right (not sure I have ever written that phrase before) here when he says, yes. It simply doesn't make sense to go forward with the project and then seek compensation for the 8 acres. This is especially true in the context of exacted conservation easements because they are perpetual. What would we do afterward if a court held that the exaction was too much? It would be pretty hard to change the perpetual conservation easement at that point and compensation can be challenging to calculate. Although I agree with Alito on this principle though, I think Justice Kagan has a better read on the facts in Koontz. Here, it looked like the Water District (the permit agency) and the landowner were in negotiations over what type of exaction might be appropriate. Koontz made an offer. The Water District made a counteroffer, but said it was interested in further negotiations. Instead of more back and forth though, Koontz jumped straight to the lawsuit. I am not sure how to figure out at what point we would say that we have the final word from the agancy and its decision is ripe for review, but it doesn't seem like this should be it. The agency was still in discussions.

It also seems that Alito and Kagan both agree that Koontz doesn't get compensation here, as again nothing was actually taken. Does he get his permit issued though? That doesn't seem quite right to me either. It seems like we should go back to the agency to get another round of negotiations and a chance to impose a proper exaction.

(2) Definitional. Now, this is a question that has been intriguing me particularly since I moved to New York. What constistutes an exaction and therefore requires Nollan/Dolan analysis versus just run-o-the mill Penn Central style inquiry. I have had severeal conversations during my brief academic career on what constitutes an exaction (with Tim Mulvaney almost convincing me that requirements to paint your house a certain color should qualify). Logically, it makes sense that anything we are demanding of the landowner in exchange for a permit is an exaction. Thus, anything that is not the permit application fee or something already required by another law should qualify. Some courts and commentaters assert however that exactions are only interests in land. This has been an interesting issue in New York because of a case called Smith v. Town of Mendon from New York's highest court. In that case, the court confusingly held that a conservation restriction was not an exaction because it there was no public access but because it was bound by precedent the court acknowledged that you could have monetary exactions. In a short piece written between oral argument and the issuance of the opinion in Koontz (for the Environmental Law Section of the NY Bar Association), I discuss the meaning of exactions in New York and ponder the potential implications of Koontz on New York's rules. It seems hard to swallow New York's definition excluding conservation easements in light of this opinion, which seems to read exactions so broadly.

Overall, it is hard not to agree with commenters who believe this decision just makes things messier for courts and complicates land use planning. Tim Mulvaney has a great summary of course, with links to others chiming in.

Jessie Owley

 

July 1, 2013 in Caselaw, Conservation Easements, New York, Supreme Court, Takings, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Works in Progress Workshops

I have been a bit quiet on the blog these past few days because I have been busy attending some amazing events. I already told you all about Widener's Constitutional Environmental Rights Workshop that I found inspiring for kick starting some long-planned work on the Public Trust Doctrine, but I also want to take a moment to praise a new Junior Environmental Law Scholar Works-in-Progress Workshop.

Amanda Leiter of American University's Washington College of Law organized an excellent weekend. Five of us submitted works in progress. We all read each other's work closely and a couple of others joined in to provide comments. We spent 60-90 minutes on each person, with indepth discussions. It was amazingly helpful. We ended on Saturday with a field trip to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, a truly hidden jem on the Anacostia River. Events like this are remarkably productive and fun. So who out there wants to coordinate the first Land Use Works-in-Progress event? (please invite me)

Jessie Owley

June 12, 2012 in Conferences, Environmental Law, Scholarship, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day

Hey everyone, it's February 29th, and that doesn't happen every year.  So Happy Leap Day! 

Some of you who follow the blog might recall that we like to do a holiday post now and then about the land use angles of the tradition-- like on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Columbus Day, St. Patrick's Day, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Day, and even Groundhog Day.  Today is the first chance I've had since relaunching the blog in 2009 to consider Leap Day, so it's time to add Feb. 29 to the list.  I must admit, however, that coming up with a land use angle for Feb. 29 looked like a bit of a challenge.  But I take pride in my skill at the game my students call "What Can't Festa Turn into a Land Use Story," so here goes:

First, it's an Irish tradition (supposedly), going back to the times of St. Patrick and St. Bridget, that on the quadrennial occurrence of Leap Day, the women get to make marriage proposals to the men (the legend is probably the progenitor of Sadie Hawkins Day).  In a traditional feudal society with a land-based economy and social structure, with primogeniture and entailments controlling the land, this social inversion could have a significant effect on how feudal power and family wealth get organized.  If it ever actually happened, that is . . . I'm skeptical, but the legend seems to have enough purchase to back the 2010 Amy Adams movie Leap Year

A second land use tie-in is related to the appellation "Leap" Day/Year.  LEAP is also an acronym that stands for "Land-use Effects on Amphibian Populations."  It's a multi-regional collaboration sponsored by the National Science Foundation.  Academic research programs were established at Missouri, Maine, and South Carolina.  And lest you think that I'm stretching here, many organizations today are using the occasion of Leap Day to celebrate Amphibians.  Amphibian Ark has rolled out an international campaign for Leap Day:

To coincide with Leap Day (February 29th) 2012, Amphibian Ark is launching a new international event, Leaping Ahead of Extinction: A celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012.

The event’s been timed to coincide with Leap Day (29th February) 2012, and will promote the great successes in the conservation of amphibians in captivity and in the wild. The focus will be on institutions that are managing amphibian rescue or supplementation programs, recommended either during an AArk conservation needs assessment, or by national governments or field experts.

Many zoos, wildlife and conservation organizations, and even Disney are also getting into the spirit with Leap Day events for amphibians.  Hopefully they won't get too jumpy in Calaveras County.

Once again, a special day with a land use angle!  Kind wishes to our amphibian friends, especially if a princess proposes to one.

Matt Festa

UPDATE: The "Leap Day" observance is broader than I had thought, and implicitly with the amphibian connection too-- I'm getting emails imploring me to take advantage of the Leap Day discounts from the excellent LeapFrog brand of learning toys that my son enjoys.  You know you've arrived as an American holiday when businessess try to commemorate it by selling stuff.  Like the old "life, liberty, and no money down!" type of sales promotions. 

UPDATE 2: For yet another land use angle, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood tells us that we should "Leap Into Safety" today by investigating our states' pipeline profiles. 

February 29, 2012 in Environmentalism, History, Humorous, Property, Sustainability, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 6, 2012

CFP: Wetlands Policy Conference at Buffalo

Via Jessica Owley, news of an interesting upcoming conference at Buffalo:

Save The Date and Call for Papers
Beyond Jurisdiction:
Wetlands Policy for the Next Generation
26-27 April 2012 at SUNY Buffalo Law School
Buffalo, New York

Beyond Jurisdiction: Wetlands Policy for the Next Generation will bring together academics from law and other fields to join advocates in an exploration of the future of wetlands law and policy from a variety of perspectives (normative, empirical, instrumental, etc.). As is true of many areas of law and social policy, the world of wetlands is inherently political and value-laden—the law is often be a poor means of accomplishing contested social objectives in this area. A debate sparked by U.S. Supreme Court decisions and related federal actions have focused wetlands scholarship and advocacy during the past decade on exploring the parameters of which “waters of the United States” fall under federal jurisdictional. Such concentration has detracted from scholarship and study of many other important issues related to wetlands policy, such as mitigation, the Tulloch rule, nationwide permits, local and state policy developments, international treaty obligations, and other matters. This conference is designed to broaden the focus of exploration and include voices of scholars, activists, scientists, media professionals, and others.

We welcome many voices to this discussion, and invite submissions on any related topic of legal, policy, or additional matters related to wetlands and other jurisdictional waters, including:

· Mitigation
· Tulloch/discharge issues
· Ecosystem services
· State and local governance
· Enforcement
· Permit processes (including nationwide and regional permits)
· Administration of the Clean Water Act
· International and transnational protections

Accepted papers will be published either in a special journal issue or as a chapter in an academic press book. You are invited to submit a paper abstract or presentation proposal of no more than 400 words by Monday, 13 February 2012 to http://baldycenter.info/cgi-bin/applications/rfp.cgi <http://baldycenter.info/cgi-bin/applications/rfp.cgi> .

For more information, contact Kim Diana Connolly at kimconno@buffalo.edu or 716-645-2092

Matt Festa

January 6, 2012 in Conferences, Environmental Law, Federal Government, Scholarship, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wolf on the Supreme Court and the Environment

51hoJRabZCL._SL500_AA300_Michael Allan Wolf (Florida) has a new book out called The Supreme Court and the Environment: The Reluctant Protector (CQ Press, 2012).  Here's the Amazon blurb:

Silent Spring (1962) can arguable be cited as one of the most influential books of the modern era. This book, along with 1960's rampant activism reacting to high-profile ecological calamities, helped create the modern environmental movement. The Supreme Court and the Environment, written by Michael Wolf, discusses one of this movement's most important legacies, namely the body of federal statutory law amassed to fight pollution and conserve natural resources that began with the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Instead of taking the more traditional route of listing court decisions, The Supreme Court and the Environment puts the actual cases in a subsidiary position, as part of a larger set of documents paired with incisive introductions that illustrate the fascinating and sometimes surprising give-and-take with Congress, federal administrative agencies, state and local governments, environmental organizations and private companies and industry trade groups that have helped define modern environmental policy.

And for a preview, Prof. Wolf has posted the introduction on SSRN.  The abstract:

This document contains the Introduction and Contents for The Supreme Court and the Environment: The Reluctant Protector (CQ Press/Sage 2012). When one views the body of modern environmental law — the decisions and the other key documents — the picture that emerges is not one of Supreme Court dominance. In this legal drama, the justices have most often played supporting roles. While we can find the occasional, memorable soliloquy in a Supreme Court majority, concurring, or dissenting opinion, the leading men and women are more likely found in Congress, administrative agencies, state and local legislatures, nongovernmental organizations, private industry, and state and lower federal courts.

What one learns from studying the Supreme Court’s environmental law output is that the justices for the most part seem more concerned about more general issues of deference to administrative agencies, the rules of statutory interpretation, the role of legislative history, the requisites for standing, and the nature of the Takings Clause than the narrow issues of entitlement to a clean environment, the notion of an environmental ethic that underlies written statutes and regulations, and concerns about ecological diversity and other environmental values. When we widen the lens, however, and focus on the other documents that make up essential parts of the story of the Supreme Court and the environment — complaints by litigants, briefs by parties and by friends of the court, oral argument transcripts, the occasional stirring dissent, lower court decisions, presidential signing statements and press conference transcripts, media reports and editorials, and legislative responses to high court decisions — we discover what is often missing in the body of Supreme Court decisions.

 Looks fascinating, and is a very original take that situates the cases themselves within a broader context of Supreme Court jurisprudence and goes beyond to the larger networks of actors that shape law.

Matt Festa

December 30, 2011 in Books, Caselaw, Coastal Regulation, Constitutional Law, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, History, Judicial Review, Politics, Property Rights, Scholarship, Supreme Court, Takings, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ostrow on Land Law Federalism

Ashira Ostrow (Hofstra) has posted Land Law Federalism, 61 Emory L.J. ___ (forthcoming 2012). A must-read, this foundational work explores the theoretical framework for appropriate federal intervention in the state/local-dominated area of land use regulation. Here's the abstract:

In modern society, capital, information and resources pass seamlessly across increasingly porous jurisdictional boundaries; land does not. Perhaps because of its immobility, the dominant descriptive and normative account of land use law is premised upon local control. Yet, land exhibits a unique duality. Each parcel is at once absolutely fixed in location but inextricably linked to a complex array of interconnected systems, natural and man-made. Ecosystems spanning vast geographic areas sustain human life; interstate highways, railways and airports physically connect remote areas; networks of buildings, homes, offices and factories, create communities and provide the physical context in which most human interaction takes place.

Given the traditional commitment to localism, scholars and policymakers often reflexively dismiss the potential for an increased federal role in land use law. Yet, modern land use law already involves a significant federal dimension resulting, in part, from the enactment of federal statutes that have varying degrees of preemptive effect on local authority. Moreover, this Article maintains that federal intervention in land use law is warranted where the cumulative impact of local land use decisions interferes with national regulatory objectives (such as developing nationwide energy or telecommunications infrastructure).

Finally, this Article advances an interjurisdictional framework for federal land law that harnesses (a) the capacity of the federal government, with its distance from local politics and economic pressures, to coordinate land use on a national scale and (b) the capacity of local officials, who have detailed knowledge of the land and are politically accountable to the local community, to implement land use policies.

Jim K.

 

October 11, 2011 in Climate, Development, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, Globalism, Green Building, Inclusionary Zoning, Local Government, NIMBY, Planning, Scholarship, Smart Growth, Sprawl, Subdivision Regulations, Sustainability, Transportation, Wetlands, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hirokawa & Gottlieb on Sustainable Habitat Restoration

Keith H. Hirokawa (Albany) and Charles Gottlieb have posted Sustainable Habitat Restoration: Fish, Farms, and Ecosystem Services. The abstract:

The conversion of estuarine marshes and floodplains to agricultural uses through diking, draining, and filling has left little adequate salmon habitat and, as a result, has been a critical factor in the decline of salmon populations. Current efforts to restore salmon by reestablishing ecosystem functionality. In particular, it has become more common to include dam and dike breaches as feasible solutions. Of course, there is a cost involved in habitat restoration, even if it is not an obvious environmental cost.

This article examines the dialogue on salmon valuation by contrasting the historical view of salmon-as-commodity with insights from "ecosystem services." This emerging trend in ecological economics will play a critical role in justifying restoration projects and formulating sustainability strategies; ecosystem services valuation is showing that investments in natural capital can provide substantial returns. This article also provides a case study of the Smith Island Habitat Restoration Project in Snohomish County, Washington. Smith Island, which was converted to farmland a century ago, exhibits enormous potential value for habitat restoration and begs for an inclusive process that considers the voices for economic, human, and ecosystem well-being. The resolution of the Smith Island controversy provides an insightful example of how a sustainability framework can be useful in showing that restoration strategies can offer substantial benefits to other lands uses and interests.

Matt Festa

 

September 2, 2011 in Agriculture, Coastal Regulation, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Scholarship, Sustainability, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Gardner on U.S. Wetland Law, Policy, and Politics

Royal C. Gardner (Stetson) has posted Lawyers, Swamps, and Money: U.S. Wetland Law, Policy, and Politics.  It is the introduction to his new book of the same name from Island Press (2011).  The abstract:

This paper is the table of contents and introduction to Royal C. Gardner, Lawyers, Swamps, and Money: U.S. Wetland Law, Policy, and Politics (Island Press 2011). The book is an accessible guide to the complex set of laws governing America's wetlands. After explaining the importance of these critical natural areas, the book examines the evolution of federal law, principally the Clean Water Act, designed to protect them.

Readers will first learn the basics of administrative law: how agencies receive and exercise their authority, how they actually make laws, and how stakeholders can influence their behavior through the Executive Branch, Congress, the courts, and the media. These core concepts provide a base of knowledge for successive discussions of:

the geographic scope and activities covered by the Clean Water Act; the curious relationship between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency; the goal of no net loss of wetlands; the role of entrepreneurial wetland mitigation banking; the tension between wetland mitigation bankers and in-lieu fee mitigation programs; enforcement issues; and wetland regulation and private property rights.

The book concludes with policy recommendations to make wetlands law more effective.

Looks like a new key resource for anyone intersted in wetlands law.

Matt Festa

May 12, 2011 in Coastal Regulation, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, Property Rights, Scholarship, Supreme Court, Takings, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Doremus (and many more) on Adaptive Management

Holly Doremus (Cal-Berkeley) collaborated with nine other scholars and two staff members from the Center for Progressive Reform to produce Making Use of Adaptive Management. Here's the abstract:

Over the last two decades, natural resource scientists, managers, and policymakers have increasingly endorsed “adaptive management” of land and natural resources. Indeed, this approach, based on adaptive implementation of resource management and pollution control laws, is now mandated in a variety of contexts at the federal and state level. Yet confusion remains over the meaning of adaptive management, and disagreement persists over its usefulness or feasibility in specific contexts.

This white paper is intended to help legislators, agency personnel, and the public better understand and use adaptive management. Adaptive management is not a panacea for the problems that plague natural resource management woes. It is appropriate in some contexts, but not in others. Drawing on key literature as well as case studies, we offer an explanation of adaptive management, including a discussion of its benefits and challenges; a roadmap for deciding whether or not to use it in a particular context; and best practices for obtaining its benefits while avoiding its potential pitfalls. Following these recommendations should simultaneously improve the ability of resource managers to achieve management goals determined by society and the ability of citizens to hold managers accountable to those goals.

The nine other scholars listed as co-authors (Andreen, Camacho, Farber, Glicksman, Goble, Karkkainen, Rohlf, Tarlock and Zellmer) make this white paper an all-star production. As an environmental 'greenhorn', I found the explanation of the concept of adaptive management straightforward and compelling. The case studies illustrate not only best practices but cautionary tales belying elevation of adaptive management as a panacea for the protection of all complex ecosystems.

Jim K.

April 25, 2011 in Coastal Regulation, Conservation Easements, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Sustainability, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kornfeld on Natural Resources Damages and BP Deepwater Horizon

Itzchak E. Kornfeld (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) has posted Of Dead Pelicans, Turtles, and Marshes: Natural Resources Damages in the Wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill, Environmental Affairs, Vol. 38, No. 2.  The abstract:

This Article posits that in its role as the lead agency among the United States’ natural resources trustees, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s piecemeal assessment of natural resources damages, i.e., valuing one dead bird at a time or the death of just a tract of marsh, fails to consider the inherent worth or the value of the entire ecosystem. Valuing the destruction of the entire ecosystem as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon well blowout is the best way to assess the damage in the Gulf Coast, particularly in south Louisiana. That crude oil spill re-sulted in an estimated 53,000 barrels per day, and a total volume of 4.9 million barrels that despoiled the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding shorelines. As a consequence of the spill, thousands of birds, turtles, fish, and marshlands were left to die.

Matt Festa

April 24, 2011 in Beaches, Coastal Regulation, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, Oil & Gas, Scholarship, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hirokawa on Disasters and Ecosystem Services Deprivation

Keith H. Hirokawa (Albany) has posted Disasters and Ecosystem Services Deprivation: From Cuyahoga to the Deepwater Horizon, Albany Law Review, Vol. 74, No. 1 (2011).  The abstract:

On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig resulted in the release of substantial amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the viability of some of the world’s most essential ecosystems. Due to both the scale of the damage and the circumstances regarding the risks involved, the event has been appropriately labeled as a disaster. However, the Deepwater Horizon incident has also mobilized a large-scale investigation into the living technology through which the Gulf of Mexico and its ecosystems provide essential, life-supporting ecosystem services. This essay explores the manner in which environmental disasters require us to adapt our understanding of nature to a changed environment, forcing us to face the loss of valuable services provided by functioning ecosystems. This essay discusses the role of environmental disasters in the development of environmental law, then focuses on the opportunities provided by ecosystem services research in calculating the ecological, social, and economic value of natural resources impaired in such circumstances.

That's two today from the Albany junior profs!

Matt Festa

March 21, 2011 in Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Property, Scholarship, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Carousels vs. Conservation in Brooklyn

In the small world department, at a wedding in December I met a student of Patricia Salkin's.   Andrew Stengel, a "non-traditional" second-year student at Albany Law School, is a member of the school’s Government Law Review.  Andrew has also served in a variety of positions in government and progressive advocacy organizations.  He worked as the political director for Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax Films, and he got his start in the administration of Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Andrew e-mailed me recently to let me know about his recent posts on the Government Law Review blog regarding a plan to put a carousel in an area of a park in Brooklyn that is meant to be protected in perpetuity as a natural and scenic area. Read his posts here and here.

Jamie Baker Roskie

UPDATE - on April 10, 2011 a federal judge in New York temporarily blocked the plan for a carousel. Stay tuned!

January 18, 2011 in Historic Preservation, New York, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Arnold on Climate Change, Water, and Adaptive Law

Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold (Louisville) served last spring as a visiting professor at the University of Houston, where he organized an excellent symposium on Climate Change, Water, and Adaptive Law, with participation from Robin Kundis Craig, Noah Hall, Dan Tarlock, Elizabeth Burleson, Lea Rachel Kosnick, and Kathleen Miller.  Prof. Arnold has recently posted two pieces from the symposium issue, published in the Environmental and Energy Law and Policy Journal, Vol. 5 (2010).

The introductory essay is Law's Adaptive Capacity and Climate Change's Impacts on Water.  The abstract:

This is an introductory essay to a symposium on Climate Change, Water, and Adaptive Law, held at the University of Houston Law Center in February 2010 and published in the Environmental and Energy Law and Policy Journal. It contends that changing climate conditions are creating pressures on water law, policy, and management institutions to adapt and questions whether these institutions have the capacity to adapt to climate change. It describes four major effects of climate change as they relate to water resources: 1) precipitation effects; 2) environmental and landscape structural effects; 3) behavioral response effects; and 4) institutional response effects. The essay then describes two articles addressing the dynamics of cross-jurisdictional scale: one by Robin Kundis Craig and one by Noah Hall; two articles addressing cross-sector interrelationships among water and energy: one by Dan Tarlock and one by Lea Rachel Kosnik; and three articles analyzing the adequacy and adaptability of existing trends in decentralized water planning and management: one by Kathleen Miller, one by Tony Arnold, and one by Elizabeth Burleson. The essay then comments on the themes of fragmentation and integration in the context of the systemic evolution and emergence of water law institutions.

Prof. Arnold's own contribution to the symposium is his article Adaptive Watershed Planning and Climate Change.  The abstract:

Few phenomena make the case for adaptive ecosystem management quite as well as climate change, the hydrological effects of which will upset settled expectations and require water institutions to adapt. The effects of climate change will be felt at multiple hydrological, geographic, and institutional scales that transcend specific water sources or political and legal jurisdictions. Moreover, the effects will be uncertain, complex, and frequently changing. Thus, water resources should be managed at watershed scales, and this management should use the adaptive management methods of flexibility, experimentation, and learning through iterative processes of managing environmental conditions and programs.

However, the adaptive ecosystem management concept has had the unfortunate effect of de-emphasizing or even rejecting the role of planning in shaping the relationships between human actions and ecological conditions. Too little attention has been given to the role of planning in adaptation and ecosystem management. A concept of "adaptive planning" is not only consistent with adaptive ecosystem management, but could actually improve adaptive ecosystem management methods and the capacity of institutions to engage in adaptive ecosystem management effectively. Moreover, a growing number of watershed plans are exhibiting some characteristics of adaptive planning, particularly with respect to the effects of climate change on watersheds and water resources.

This article explores the role of adaptive watershed planning in adapting to climate change. Adaptive watershed management requires the use of adaptive planning methods, not merely ad hoc, reactive experimentalism and incrementalism. Without some process of planning, Charles Lindblom’s “science of muddling through” becomes "the science of drifting along." Adaptive planning gives some direction and focus to adaptive ecosystem management activities. Furthermore, adaptive watershed planning can improve not only adaptive watershed management methods, but also the content and effectiveness of watershed plans themselves. If watershed plans are to be useful, they must contemplate the uncertainties associated with climate change and its effects.

In addition to describing the theory and features of adaptive planning and applying adaptive planning principles to watershed planning and management, this article also explores examples of watershed plans in the U.S. and Canada that have addressed climate change and analyzes a number of issues in adaptive watershed planning, including barriers to, and opportunities for, the increased and improved use of adaptive watershed planning to improve the capacity of watershed institutions to adapt to climate change.

Check out all of the articles from this interesting event when they are published by Environmental and Energy Law & Policy.  It was great to have Tony Arnold down in Houston last spring to organize this event, with the side benefit of bringing him over to South Texas for our Land Use in the Unzoned City forum!

Matt Festa

December 1, 2010 in Climate, Conferences, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Planning, Property, Scholarship, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ruhl on Ecosystem Services and the Clean Water Act

J.B. Ruhl (Florida State) has posted Ecosystem Services and the Clean Water Act: Strategies for Fitting New Science into Old Laws.  The abstract:  

This Article explores the administrative reform potential that exists for integrating new knowledge about ecosystem services into Clean Water Act (CWA) regulatory programs as an example for all environmental laws. Part II of the Article reviews the relevant general rules of federal administrative law governing agency interpretation of the policy space available under statutory authority for integrating new science into decision making. Part III then explores the strategies an agency such as EPA can use under those rules to integrate the concept of ecosystem services into regulatory programs by searching for statutory provisions to support what I call "direct protection" authority and "performance metric" authority. Part IV of the Article turns to the dredge and fill permit program of section 404 of the CWA and the water quality standards and total maximum daily load (TMDL) program of section 303 of the CWA as its case studies, showing how opportunities for and obstacles to the two integration strategies arise in the structure and text of the statute. The Article closes with some thoughts on a more overarching agenda for working ecosystem services into existing federal environmental protection programs.

Matt Festa

October 7, 2010 in Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, Scholarship, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adler on Revisiting the Fundamental Principles of the Clean Water Act

Robert W. Adler (Utah) has posted Resilience, Restoration, and Sustainability: Revisiting the Fundamental Principles of the Clean Water Act, Washington U. Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 32, p. 139 (2010).  The abstract:

The last truly significant revisions to federal water pollution legislation (the “Clean Water Act” or “CWA”) occurred in 1972. The CWA has been among the nation’s more successful environmental statutes, especially with respect to control of point source discharges of pollutants into surface waters. However, when viewed from the broader statutory objective to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” the statutory tools are either too dull to accomplish the task, or in some cases the appropriate tools have yet to be forged at all. In this Article, I argue that the focus of the CWA should be modified or expanded in four ways. First, we need to make better use of current concepts of ecosystem resilience rather than the notion of ecosystem “stability” that prevailed when the 1972 law was passed. Second, we need to develop the statutory and other tools necessary to press forward with the restoration goal of the statute. Third, we need to pursue the long-recognized statutory gap in redressing non-industrial forms of water pollution from a much wider range of sources than traditional industrial and municipal point source discharges. Finally, we need to revise our definitions of “waters” and “waters of the United States” to focus on the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems for human and natural uses, rather than on the antiquated concept of navigability.

Matt Festa

September 24, 2010 in Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, Scholarship, Sustainability, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Abandoned Farmland Slated for Solar Project

According to a recent story on NPR's Morning Edition, California has recently declared one of the most ambitious targets for renewable energy in the world - 1/3rd of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.  (Sadly, Georgia has no currently goal.  No Southeastern state has, except North Carolina.)  However, like Cape Wind, struggles continue over siting renewable energy projects - like this solar project proposed in Central California.

However, according to a recent story in The New York Times, there are places where the siting of solar projects is popular with pretty much everybody - on abandoned agricultural land.

Thousands of acres of farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley have been removed from agricultural production, largely because the once fertile land is contaminated by salt buildup from years of irrigation.

But large swaths of those dry fields could have a valuable new use in their future — making electricity.

Farmers and officials at Westlands Water District, a public agency that supplies water to farms in the valley, have agreed to provide land for what would be one of the world’s largest solar energy complexes, to be built on 30,000 acres.  At peak output, the proposed Westlands Solar Park would generate as much electricity as several big nuclear power plants.

It's interesting that one environmental problem - saltwater intrusion from overpumping of the coastal aquafers - might contribute to another environmental solution - reduction of dependence on coal-fired power plants.  Anyway, it's nice to see a non-controversial renewable energy project, for a change.

Jamie Baker Roskie

August 17, 2010 in California, Clean Energy, Environmentalism, Georgia, State Government, Water, Wetlands, Wind Energy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sea Level Rise & Local Planning

The co-editors of this blog recently got an interesting e-mail from Jim Titus, an eminent EPA scientist who has been researching sea level rise for many years.  He was co-author of one of the first EPA-funded studies on sea level rise in the mid-80s.  He wrote to tell us about an important new study:

    The study sheds light on the ultimate significance of the Stop the Beach Renourishment (FL) and Severance (TX) takings cases.  The name of the article is State and local governments plan for development along most land vulnerable to rising sea level along the US Atlantic Coast
    The Texas case ultimately gets at the question about whether the legislature can adjust property law to reflect the geological reality of changing shores without causing a taking for those immediately affected, and for those who will ever be affected.  The Florida case looks like a judicial takings case but it too really gets at whether a confusing doctrine of avulsion can be adjusted to reflect the reality of shoreline movement and government response without causing a taking.   Ultimately, the question about whether all riparian owners benefit from beach nourishment depends on whether they had a right to build a seawall or would have had to lose their homes without that beach nourishment.  That is, cases like Stop the Beach Nourishment will ultimately require resolution of cases like Severance.  But ultimately, the relevance depends on where we will hold back the sea and where we will retreat.
    Our new study gets into that question.  The sea level rise planning study, recently published in the peer-review journal Environmental Research Letters., was based on a $2 million research project by USEPA, conducted in collabortation with 130 local governments.  Actually, the regional planning councils did the work in FL, GA, and PA; elsewhere we obtained our data and vetted the analysis through the local governments.  The media coverage was mostly in the southeast, especially North Carolina, but the general story is important to all who want to think about either (a) how lands use planning will deal with sea level rise or (b) where all these coastal takings cases ultimately go.    
    The study does three things worth knowing about.  First, we create maps about where people would hold back the sea if current policies continue, based on the data provided by 130 local govenments, refined through site-specific corrections by local planers.  The idea is to motivate dialogue on where we **should** protect and where we **should** allow wetlands to migrate inland.  So now, local governments that want to start planning for sea level rise have a strawman baseline analysis.  This is needed because one can not really address rising sea level in a local plan without making an assumption about which land will be yielded to the sea, which land will be elevated, and which land will be protected by a structure.
    With all these GIS maps, we then analyze how much land is likely to be developed and protected from the rising sea (possibly exposing people to a New Orleans situation) and how much land is available for the inland migration of wetlands.  We estimate that 60% of low land will be developed, with 10% set aside for conservation and the other 30% undeveloped at first--but shore protection would be possible even here. Opportunities for land-use planning are greatest between Delaware Bay and Georgia; elsewhere emergency and infrastructure planning are more urgent.  (My personal view is that, as legislatures and others think about possible clarification and alignment of property rights to reflect rising sea level, the areas shown in blue should all have something like the Texas rolling easement as a background principal, the areas in red are candidates for purchase of rolling easements as an interest in land--possibly by eminent domain, exactions, or conserancies; and the areas in brown should have policies more protective or property rights along estuaries provided that public access is preserved.)
    Finally, we conclude that the resulting level of shore protection has a cumulative impact which violates the Clean Water Act (legal reasoning explained in the article).  
  

Our thanks to Jim for letting us know about this study.  It parallels some work being done by the Ecology school here at UGA.  I'll blog about that soon.

Jamie Baker Roskie

UPDATE: Jim asked that I be sure to add the links to the sea level rise planning maps and the state-specific summaries. (On the latter page, for extra fun, you can download a Christmas global warming song!) Also, Jim attended oral arguments for Stop the Beach, which I will post in a separate blog entry.

December 2, 2009 in Coastal Regulation, Georgia, Local Government, Planning, Property Rights, Scholarship, Takings, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)